Israelite Abode, Part Two

Today we built our tiny house! We made the bricks from scratch with gluten-free salt dough, please see this post for details. Now for the mortar, the timbers and the construction!

First, the kids went outside and collected some sticks to serve as the house’s timbers. If our house had two stories, we would have placed timbers in the middle…but ours is a humble little home and we only needed sticks to support the roof.

When we had our sticks, we collected all the needed items for this stage of the project: Wood glue, corn flour, salt, hot water, tiny trowels (pallet knives…find these in the painting aisle of a craft store), something to mix the mortar in (disposable is a good idea), a nice cardboard base for the house, some additional cardboard scraps, and something with which to cut the sticks and cardboard.

The mortar is one part wood glue, one part corn flour, two parts hot water and about 1/8 part salt. First put the glue in your mixing container, then add the water, the flour and the salt. Mix well, adding additional water or flour to make a paste consistency.

Plan the foundation of your house. We counted the number of bricks needed for one layer, counted the number of layers we wanted for our house, multiplied these numbers together and found that we had just enough bricks to make the house, with some for the stairs as well. Then we outlined our foundation in pencil on the cardboard and set the first layer of bricks.

Put your mortar on the bottom of each brick, press it into the cardboard, and then do the same with the next. Put mortar on the sides of each brick and make sure that there is plenty of mortar between each brick.

I love how projects help you work together! Three sets of hands…the house was built row by row and took form so quickly! We put a small piece of cardboard inside one side of our house, because ancient Israelites used to have a raised area in their homes where they would put their sleeping mats.

Leave spaces for windows and use a strip of cardboard over the empty window to place your next row of bricks

At the level before your last layer of bricks, space the timbers between bricks. Add plenty of mortar around each timber and snug them into the bricks. If we were doing this over, I would have cut the bricks in half (they cut fairly easily with a knife) and added more timbers.

Now it’s time to set the stairs. Your child will know just how to do this…it’s just like making stairs with Lego’s! We put some wood glue out on the cardboard to make sure that our stairs stuck. Make sure that there is a nice layer of mortar on the side of the house where the stairs are so that they don’t separate from the house. Make the top stair even with the top of the house.

Once you’ve built the stairs, it’s time to cover the bricks with mortar. We smoothed mortar over the outside of the house and the stairs, making sure all the cracks were filled (so no snakes can get in!) and the exterior of the house was smooth.

Update: We discovered that this works better if you first let the mortar on the bricks dry completely, then apply the mortar to the outside of the house. Our house cracked on the outside overnight…we will remove the outer layer and I will have the kids use a can of wall spackle instead of the mortar, just in case. I’ll post new pictures next week when we do step three!

Next week we will continue our project with the roof (removable, so you can see inside!) and the courtyard. We’ll also be making some household objects and a family to go with the house, as well as a few textiles!


One thought on “Israelite Abode, Part Two

  1. Very cool post. I was thinking the other day that in the history of architecture we still rely heavily on stairs. Kind of stupid epiphany but it goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun.

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